Toronto Police sexual harrassment report to land in June

By Wendy Gillis, Crime Reporter, Toronto Star

Fri., May 4, 2018


In response to two female officers’ recent complaints of a “poisoned” and sexist work environment, the Toronto police board commissioned a report on the force’s current workplace sexual harassment policies, with an eye to determining whether changes should be made.

Commissioned unanimously in January, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders was tasked with preparing the report for the April meeting of the civilian police board.

But the meeting came and went with no mention of the report, prompting questions from the former board member who called for the report in the name of acting swiftly.

“Official processes, trial processess and hearings can ramble on for years,” said Shelley Carroll, former city counciller and police board member who is now a candidate in the provincial election.

While she said she was “not hitting the panic button” — noting it’s not unusual for Toronto police reports to the board to be a month or two late — she stresses that she will be watching for the report to come soon, otherwise “that would be a sign that we’re not prioritizing.”

“I don’t want to see the Toronto police board get some sort of damning report, that you have a problem you need to deal with it system-wide, at the end of the legal process,” she said.

A Toronto police spokesperson said the report is likely to be presented at the June police board meeting, saying the delay was caused by an administrative oversight. Deputy Chief Barbara McLean will be leading the review.

Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle was not immediately available for comment.

Shelley’s request for a report came one month after Toronto police Sgt. Jessica McInnis filed a detailed complaint to Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal alleging sexual harassment and discrimination on the job. That included, McInnis alleges, a barrage of sexually explicit text messages and photos sent from her former police partner, Det. Mark Morris.

Morris’ lawyer has called McInnis allegations false and misleading. None of the allegations have been proven at the tribunal.

Toronto police Const. Heather McWilliam has also filed a similar complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal, alleging sexual harrassment by her superior officers. She alleges that during her seven years as a Toronto police officer she heard sexual or sexist comments on every shift. Her hearing before the tribunal is ongoing.

Barry Swadron, McInnis’ lawyer, said he understands that the service has been exceptionally busy, in part due to last month’s fatal van rampage, but said the report must still be made a priority.

“It’s something that should be sorted out as quickly as possible,” Swadron said. “In the era of #metoo, you’d think, because of the public interest, it would be given priority.”